Hear the Pain of Marginalized Voices in “Hustle”
The poems in David Tomas Martinez’s new poetry collection Hustle revolve around the coming-of-age stories of minorities who live in San Diego, California. Many of the situations are based off of what Martinez saw during his own childhood. With careful construction his poetry shows the dark side of San Diego, a side that’s rife with gang activity and family suffering.
In his poems, Martinez muses about masculinity and power as he alternates from feeling incredibly vulnerable and peppering his work with boastful bravado. His unflinching exploration of the SoCal Chicano identity and the dysfunctional family that he grew up in is interspersed with witty language play and the slang terms of California’s marginalized voices. His eagle-eyed look at his youth is a beautiful elegy to the elements that shaped his early childhood and teenage years. Martinez recounts how he was often swayed by peer pressure when he was in high school and was often influenced by the violence that he saw in his daily life.
Hustle allows its readers to hear the voices of those society has shoved off to the side by giving an honest and heartbreaking portrayal of these voices. Martinez fosters feelings of sympathy in all those who have the privilege to read his work.